Gravenhurst council has passed a motion to recommend conducting a ward boundary review. The motion indicates that the review would be done by the next council, during the 2026-2030 term.
The motion stated that ward boundary reviews “are to consider effective representation including geography, community interests, and reasonable population projections,” and that “a strong and effective public consultation process be included in the multi-year capital budget.” The motion was introduced by deputy mayor Heidi Lorenz at the Oct. 19 Committee of the Whole meeting.
In her comments, Lorenz pointed out that 2022 is an election year and that “unfortunately this didn’t make it to us to talk about before…it has been 15 years since the last ward review, and it is “a responsible thing to do, to look at the ward boundaries every so often.”
There is great growth in ward 1, said Lorenz, including residential growth around Jane St. and also in ward 5, at Pine St. and Wellington. She also recalled that ward 1 used to have two councillors and that because it encompasses the arena, the public wharf and launch, and Gull Lake park and things happening there “affect all of us.”
Lorenz noted that while “none of us could be around” as it would occur after the election, that this was not a commitment but a “suggestion” to the next council to help “make sure nobody was under or over-represented.”
Coun. Jo Morphy expressed concern that committing money now for a future council to conduct a ward review was “a bit premature.” Morphy said that in looking at census numbers, “from 2011 to 2016, Gravenhurst grew by 246 people and from 2016 to a future estimate, we may grow by 625 people.” Morphy said that it seems “a lot of development seems to be coming” and that the decision should be made later. “I like the idea, I think it needs to be done, but I don’t like making decisions for a future council,” she said.
Coun. Pilger said that he was around for the last ward review 15 years ago, and that there had been “a lot of public pressure to do it and this time around I haven’t heard anybody except for councillor Lorenz really ask for it….I do think it’s a bit premature and possibly extra work before it’s needed.”
Lorenz disagreed, saying that “people do care about this, there are people out there who think there are too many of us.” She reminded council that it would simply be noted in the budget and that the future council could choose to not do the review if they think it’s not the right time. “It’s a suggestion, just to say to the next council, this may be important…and to say there’s no growth, there are 200 apartments going up in the south end, that’s 400 people, so how many people are on Pine St? Wellington?”
Lorenz said she was not comfortable “sloughing it off” and requested a recorded vote. All councillors and the mayor voted to pass the motion except for Morphy and Pilger.
The next council meeting is Nov. 16 at 3pm.
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